President Buhari’s 2nd term: where will the votes come from? – the inevitability of power devolution
Posted By: Femi Orebe On: October 28, 2018
I am sure that today, nobody needs tell President Buhari that there is no more time
Within the last decade or so, I must have deployed over a million words, on these pages, canvassing restructuring. I have not only written my hands sore on the subject, I have, under the auspices of AGBAJO YORUBA AGBAIYE, a pan Yoruba cultural organisation then under the interim leadership of Lt. Gen Alani Akinrinade, actively participated in planning, and attending several summits at which restructuring was the main theme. Ditto at some Afenifere Renewal Group retreats where the subject came under serious interrogation. Many of the events were reported on these pages.
That, incidentally, was long before the likes of President Goodluck Jonathan bought into restructuring after Afenifere goaded him into convoking the 2014 confab.
That was aeons before some people, even a whole geo political zone now shouting restructuring on rooftops, turned it to a weapon of political opposition, intent on using the non implementation of the recommendations of the 2014 opportunistic talkshop, which the convener himsef did nothing about, as a weapon in their effort to de-market President Muhammadu Buhari ahead of the 2019 Presidential election.
Amongst my several articles on restructuring are: “The increasing call for true federalism” 17 October, 2015 and, “That June 12 recognition may not be a hollow ritual” of 17 June, 2018. Of the two the more relevant for our purpose today is the latter. In the piece, I wrote, inter alia:
“But lest we get lost in the euphoria of the moment, ( I e June 12 recognition), it is time to let the president understand that rather than June 12 being the closure, it is just the beginning of telling truth to ourselves; the starting point of very vigorously confronting the many demons tearing into our whole being as Nigerians . The first of the demons is the fact that Nigeria is presently nowhere near a federation, and that when we so describe it, we are merely repeating the type of lie the Nigerian constitution tells against itself when it arrogates its birth to : ‘we the people”.
The question then arises, what is a federation? To answer this million naira question, I will, very respectfully, press my two- time teacher, Professor (Senator) Banji Akintoye, into service.
Writing on the topic: ‘What is restructuring’, in his column in The Nation of 6 January, 2018, the respected historian and statesman, who we shall quote at great length, opines : “The basic idea of a federation is that the various distinct parts of a country should be made a federating unit. Each state should have the constitutional power to manage its unique problems and concerns, to develop its own resources for its people, to manage its own security, and to make its own kind of contributions to the well-being of the whole country. The central entity should manage common matters like the defence of the country, the relationship of the country with the rest of the world (or international relations), the country’s currency, the relations between the states of the country, and general principles like defence of human rights. That, in his words, was essentially, the federal arrangement which Nigeria’s founding fathers agreed upon in the 1950s.” Continuing, he wrote: “But since independence, our leading politicians, and our military leaders, have gradually destroyed this structure and replaced it with a structure in which the federal government is the controller of virtually all power and all resources as well as the power to develop all resources, and in which the states have no control over their resources and must, therefore, depend on federal allocations to exist at all”
“As a result, he writes, “the federal government is over-burdened, controls too much money, has become egregiously inefficient and corrupt and, essentially, is destroying Nigeria because the states have become impotent, cannot develop their resources, cannot fight poverty in their domains, and cannot make their contributions to the progress and prosperity of Nigeria. The cumulative effect of all these, he concluded, is that Nigeria and Nigerians have become horribly poor, most public facilities (roads, electricity, water installations, public administration, etc.) have degraded, and are not working with the result that most of our youths are unemployed and hopeless.
Professor Akintoye has clinically presented the critical situation Nigerian is in today and it is an Augean stable President Buhari must buckle up and clear ahead of the February 2019 Presidential elections, if he seriously desires victory. After enumerating the factors which could work against his victory in 2019, I wrote:”Happily, however, the president still has some time on his hands if only he will now rouse himself. He just must change tack, see every part of the country, especially the agonising Southeast, as equally deserving of equitable treatment. He must abandon his insularity and let other parts of the country also have dividends of democracy”.
I am sure that today, nobody needs tell President Buhari that there is no more time. He must, therefore, judiciously deploy the few months between now and January, 2019, a mere four months, to attend to the two issues Nigerians are mostly concerned with: the poverty roaming the land untamed, and restructuring.
Concerning the former, President Buhari has put in place well-structured social welfare /poverty reduction intervention programmes to which, for the first time ever in Nigeria, a whooping sum of N500B has been committed. When people complain about poverty in the country, they should endeavour to turn their inner mind to the likes of Obasanjo, Babangida, Danjuma and, of course, the rapacious PDP.
That done on poverty alleviation, President Buhari must now tackle Power devolution frontally. I remain certain, however, that no Nigerian President of Northern extraction would ever restructure Nigeria the way professor Akintoye defined it here, not Buhari, not Atiku; or they would instantly go into perdition amongst their own people who enjoy such outlandish advantages over the rest of us from the present inequitable status quo.
All I am calling President Buhari to do is fulfil his party’s promise to Nigerians on Power Devolution. Given the little time remaining, he should retrieve the recommendations of his party’s committee on Power Devolution which were approved by the party’s NEC. President Buhari must not, because of his excessive love for Northern Nigeria allow that report to die in the technical committee to which it was cleverly referred.
I laugh when candidate Atiku grandstands on restructuring. The Fulani that he is, he will never restructure Nigeria the way we in the Southwest have always defined it. It is a good thing that Igbos have asked him to define what he means by restructuring in addition to his signing a mandatory one term in a manner that should make it actionable should he, like President Good luck before him, try to be too smart.
Good thing is: Atiku has brought restructuring to the front burner by making it a campaign issue. President Buhari would toy with it only if he wants to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory as I have already given him 52% of the Presidential election tally in February, 2019. Let him who have ears, hear.